How can Singapore’s labour market—one of the country’s most valuable resources be better managed?
The labour market is one of Singapore’s most valuable resources, but how can human resources (HR) be better managed? A good strategy would be for organisations to prepare themselves for the upcoming year by understanding certain trends and predictions relating to HR. A few trends that can be expected in 2019 is the rise in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in companies, importance of employee upskilling, as well as a reduction in salary and headcounts due to downturns in economies. The aforementioned trends and predictions can help HR professionals better manage their labour pool and aid in staff retention and motivation strategies for organisations.
HR Trends of 2019
As a landlocked country, Singapore depends largely on human labour to keep the economy striving. One of the biggest service sectors that drives the economy of Singapore is the tourism industry—where millions of tourists travel to Singapore each year in search of the multiracial culture and environmentally-friendly country that Singapore prides herself for. 1 Bringing Singapore’s tourism industry to its next step, Singapore Airlines and Changi Airport Singapore have been voted as one of the best airlines and airports in the world respectively. With Singapore thriving in the tourism industry, HR trends are especially important in helping us gauge what to expect for the labour market in 2019.
According to HRM Asia 2, AI will be leading the talks to HR management in 2019. With an aim to simplify HR operations, research and development (R&D) prioritising technological advancements and AI are in the stage of development to take over HR operations in organisations. Examples of how AI can benefit HR management includes reducing biases through an algorithm assessment platform to gather a diversified pool of candidates, replacing administrative tasks such as scheduling interviews and providing feedback, as well as effectively communicating candidate status to the respective parties. 3
The rise of AI in the HR industry may be seen as a threat to human society as people may fear the replacement of job responsibilities and roles in organisations. However, most AI projects are based on machine learning that helps identify patterns within data sets and therefore tries to make predictions based on pre-existing data. 4 To further elaborate this point, AI is about building a system that acts like a human brain and machine learning will require a lot of training data to be able to find valuable information to produce relative patterns that will be useful for the human society. 4 Quite ironically, the rise of AI could also potentially create 7.2 million job opportunities for the human society in replacement of the 7 million roles AI displaces. 5 Jobs that will be created with the rise of AI will include trainers that will require human workers to impart skills on how AI will be taught and explainers to bridge the gap between AI technology and business leaders. 6
With the rise of AI being incorporated into HR management, HRM Asia 2 highlighted that it is also important for employees to be continually upskilled for future roles in organisations. Employee upskilling is equally important for the retention of staff in organisations. According to the ACI Report 2019 7, a data-driven report that gathers responses from 870 personnel in the tourism, travel, and lifestyle industry, it is stated that when employers neglect training and development, it almost always guarantees an employee resignation rate of 75 per cent. 7
Staying relevant and competent continues to be of importance to the labour market in today’s fast-paced world. The Singapore Budget 2019 further elaborated this idea by emphasising that the national SkillsFuture movement and the Adapt and Grow initiatives are being put in place to enable its people to reach their fullest potential in their workplace through continuous education and training. 8 In addition, the reduction of the Dependency Ratio Ceiling (DRC) in the services section from 40 per cent to 35 per cent by 1 January 2021 would also mean that employees are further encouraged to improve their skills in order to stay relevant. 8 It is also good to note that the report has also revealed a correlation between salary and education, with Master’s degree holders earning significantly more, signifying that employee upskilling continues to be of a deciding factor in salaries. 7
Respective economies of countries will continue to reflect the position of the corporate landscape. Results from ACI Report 2019 7 revealed that a drop in the new headcount forecast from 53 per cent in 2018 to 41 per cent is to be expected in 2019. Average salaries for China and Singapore are also expected to decline by three per cent and one per cent respectively, with lower bonuses of 68 per cent receiving one month or more in their bonus in comparison to the 77 per cent forecast in 2018. However, amidst the negative forecast, Hong Kong’s average salary remains the highest in the region of US$92,391.
On hindsight, HR trends of 2019 are expected to look more negative than in previous years. This can be attributed to the reflection of economies, where geopolitics could possibly play a very essential role in determining the trends. The introduction of AI is also being increasingly incorporated into organisations, to which employees will need to continually upskill themselves to remain relevant. Organisations will also have a part to play an active and supportive role in bringing employees to their next career advancement.
1 Major Industries of Singapore, 2019. https://www.gnvconsultancy.com/incorporation/major_indusries.html.
2 HRM Asia, 28 December 2018. Some HR trends to watch out for in 2019, http://hrmasia.com/hr-trends-to-watch-out-2019/.
3 Forbes Human Resources Council, 9 July 2018. 11 ways AI can revolutionize human resources, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2018/07/09/11-ways-ai-can-revolutionize-humanresources/#16100ec9e304.
4 Buest R, 2018. Artificial intelligence is not a threat to human society, https://www.cio.com/article/3246291/artificial-intelligence-is-not-athreat-to-human-society.html.
5 Frangoul A, 17 July 2018. Artificial intelligence will create more jobs than it destroys? That’s what PwC says, CNBC, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/17/artificial-intelligence-to-create-more-jobs-than-itdestroys-pwc-says.html.
6 Wilson HJ, Daugherty PR, and Morini-Bianzino N, 23 March 2017. A global study finds several new categories of human jobs emerging, requiring skills and training that will take many companies by surprise, MITSloan Management Review Summer 2017 vol58, no. 4 (pp. 14-16). Massachusetts, United States of America: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
7 ACI HR Solutions, 2019. ACI Report – 2019, http://www.acihr.com/employers/salary-report.
8 MOF | Singapore Budget 2019 | C. Skilled workforce, innovative firms, and a vibrant economy, https://www.singaporebudget.gov.sg/
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